Sidekicks clinch Central title: Team honors living legend Tatu
The Rockford Rampage ran into the perfect storm Saturday at the Allen Event Center.
Playing for a chance to clinch the division championship on the night when Dallas rolled out the red carpet to fete the face of the storied franchise, the Sidekicks honored their all-time great with a deluge that left their visitors running for cover.
Dallas (12-3) poured it on to begin the second quarter, scoring three goals a mere 51 seconds apart to open a 4-0 lead. The team's leading scorer, Jamie Lovegrove, got his first of the game when he tapped in Patrick Shamu's third assist a little more than three minutes later, and the Sidekicks romped from there for a 14-5 win that crowned the team with the Central Division title in its first season back on the pitch in nine years. Rockford fell to 7-8.
With an attendance on hand of nearly 5,500, the franchise celebrated the half with a 40-minute tribute to Tatu, indoor soccer's all-time leading scorer and the man who led the Sidekicks to four world indoor titles. Handshakes, back slaps and hugs flowed for the man who is universally hailed as indoor soccer's all-time greatest player during an emotional retirement of his No. 9 jersey.
With tears brimming and his voice noticeably choking following video tributes that featured signed jerseys from sporting legends Mike Modano, Nolan Ryan, Dirk Nowitzki, Roger Staubach and Pelé, the honoree profusely thanked his children. Tatu then honored the man who recognized his prodigious talents in his native Brazil when he was only 19 and brought him to his glory in America, Gordon Jago, the Sidekicks' only other coach besides himself. The man of the hour also thanked notable former teammates and the franchise's original owner, Don Carter, along with current majority owner, Ronnie Davis.
Tatu closed with a sincere salute of appreciation to the fans, noting four separate times when the Sidekicks fans were effusive in their support of the team's efforts.